F1 2020: A SEASON LIKE NO OTHER
2020 has been a strange year for everyone. The much anticipated 2020 Formula One season was supposed to get underway in Melbourne, Australia in late March - but due to the ever present COVID-19 pandemic was taking it's toll on sports across the world - multiple sports had been cancelled in the weeks before but F1 was still yet to decide it's future. Then the first day back on the Thursday - juts moments before the first practice session was set to take place CEO Chase Carey and the Australian Grand Prix organiser announced to travelling fans that the race was cancelled and that all would be refunded on the way out.
We waited months for the first official race to start while sitting as we watched race after race being cancelled and postponed. 2020 was supposed to be a record breaking season with 22 races. As we waited to watch some racing the calendar slowly got smaller and smaller with Australia cancelled, next came Bahrain which was postponed... twice... Vietnam was supposed to host a Grand Prix this year - the Hanoi race was cancelled. The Chinese Grand Prix - cancelled as was the Dutch Grand Prix as well as the races in Monaco, Azerbaijan, Canada, France, Singapore, Japan, America, Mexico and Brazil. With the remaining races being postponed until further notice.
Then came July and it was announced that there will be a 17 race calendar - with races to be announced later on but finally we had some racing to look forward to. On the 5th July the first 2020 race happened in Austria at the Red Bull Ring. It had been 112 days since the action was supposed to get underway in Melbourne. But finally we had a race and what a race it was. With Bottas starting his season well as he often does with Leclerc in second in a Ferrari in which he would go onto outperform almost all season, with Lando Norris taking third for his maiden F1 podium. The next weekend we had the Styrian Grand Prix... basically just the Austrian Grand Prix v2. This was won by Hamilton with Bottas in second and Verstappen in third. Then to finish off July, F1 travelled to Hungary for the third race of the season with Hamilton winning once again in the start of his title charge, Verstappen improved on the previous race to take second from Bottas in third.
It's the first weekend of August when the first of two British Grand Prix's take place the first on the 2nd August with Hamilton taking a third win, Verstappen second and Leclerc takes his second and final podium of the year. Then the next weekend we had the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix which was won by Verstappen for his first of two wins in 2020 with Hamilton and Bottas in second and third. It's now the middle of August and F1 is in Spain and five races in. Hamilton... you guessed it... won the Spanish Grand Prix with Verstappen and Bottas in second and third once again. In the final week of August Formula One came to Belgium - where over the weekend - drivers and fans across the world remembered F2 driver Anthoine Hubert who we sadly lost last year. Hamilton took his fifth victory of the year with Bottas in second and Verstappen in the Red Bull once again on the podium in third.
F1 during these past few months had slowly been revealing which races will be added to the calendar which included six new circuits including Portimao (Portugal), Mugello (Italy) and the Bahrain Outer Circuit. With the return of Imola Turkey and the Nurburgring.
During September F1 fans sat down for the Italian Grand Prix a race which no one could have ever predicted. With a Mercedes front row lockout on the Saturday before, no one would have thought that Pierre Gasly would have taken his maiden F1 victory alongside Sainz and Stroll in second and third.
Gasly fully deserved this victory after what he had been through with losing his seat at Red Bull and then having to deal with the loss of good friend Anthoine Hubert. The weekend after F1 took to the Mugello circuit a track F1 had never raced at before, this time not as exciting as the first of three Italian Grand Prix's with Hamilton standing on the top step once more with Bottas taking second and Alex Albon got a well deserved first F1 podium in third. The third and final race in September was the Russian Grand Prix with one of the most common top three on the podium once again yes you guessed it, Bottas this time taking victory his first since July with Verstappen in second and Hamilton in third.
The German Grand Prix was next and it was a history defining moment as Lewis Hamilton took victory to take a record equalling 91st career win matching the legendary Micheal Schumacher. Hamilton was then presented with one of Michael's helmets from the German's time at Mercedes from son Mick Schumacher. Verstappen finished second with a first podium for Renault in the shape of Daniel Ricciardo.
The Portuguese Grand Prix - a race that would make history - Hamilton, I know - won yet again but this time for a 92nd time in his career which meant he surpassed the long standing record at that moment held by himself and Schumacher. An incredible achievement by an incredible driver. Bottas and Verstappen took second and third.
In the first weekend in November Formula One returned to Imola a track famous for its great racing but also for the tragic weekend in 1994 - the worst in F1 history when in qualifying Roland Ratzenberger was killed and then during the race the great Ayrton Senna was involved in a fatal accident. Hamilton took his 93rd victory with Bottas in second and a second podium for Ricciardo in the Renault. On came the 15th November and F1 had made a return to the spectacular and very popular Turkish Grand Prix last raced on in 2011. With slippery conditions many struggled including Bottas and Verstappen. But despite the tricky conditions Hamilton managed to control his W11 with precision and care as he crossed the line to take a seventh World Championship - equalling the record of Schumacher a record many thought could never be broken. Perez took second for his first podium of the year with Vettel taking third in his Ferrari - this was Vettel's first and last podium of 2020 but also Ferrari's final 2020 podium, which really sums up just how bad of a season Ferrari had.
We are now into the final weekend of November and its time for a Bahrain double header the first being the main circuit layout which saw the horrific images of Romain Grosjean's crash being televised across the world. It's a testament to the safety in F1 the Grosjean was able to walk away from his accident. Hamilton won that race after a lengthy red flag with Verstappen and Albon taking second and third respectively. Its now December and time for the Sakhir Grand Prix - raced on the outer circuit which is the fastest track in F1 history - which meant we had 89 laps of drama - as George Russell substituted for Hamilton who was out after testing positive for COVID. In another race that no one could have predicted Sergio Perez managed a first Formula One victory after nine years of racing at the pinnacle, Ocon managed his first podium in F1 and Renault's third and final of the year with Stroll taking his second of the season.
Then came the most boring race in history - after all we had experienced in 2020 from the amazing first race- to the unpredictable in Italy and Bahrain - Abu Dhabi never really gave us the race we wanted with little changes for position during the race - Verstappen dominated to take victory over Bottas in second by 16 second with Hamilton in third.